Thunderbirds Overhaul Aerial Demo for First Time in 38 YearsLee Hudson
For the first time in 38 years, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are altering the show for the 2021 season. The flight demonstration team had to cancel its 2020 air show season because of the spread of the novel coronavirus, and they pivoted and focused on saluting first responders and revising their existing demonstration routine. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Thunderbird leadership had time to redesign the show, to be shorter and more engaging. They consulted with former Disney executives and even the rival U.S. Navy Blue Angels on how to produce new new demonstration.
This is only the second time the Thunderbird routine has gone through a complete overhaul since the team's creating in 1953. The group revised its demonstration to include the F-16 in the aftermath of the 1982 Diamond Crash, which resulted in four pilot fatalities. The 2021 season kicks off with the Cocoa Beach Air Show in Florida on April 17-18. Viewers can expect a 50-minute demo instead of the previous 90-minute routine. The Thunderbirds removed six of the more repetitive maneuvers from the air portion and tightened the ground show.